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Stogie Commentary: Re-Evaluating the Cuban Embargo

20 Feb 2008

Yesterday Fidel Castro announced that he would be stepping down after five decades as president of Cuba. This significant event gives us a rare moment to soberly re-examine the Cuban embargo that has kept Americans from legally obtaining Cuban cigars for so many years.

Fidel CastroSoon after Castro came into power, it became clear that he was a brutal thug who had no intention of respecting the rights of Cubans. In response to his embrace of communism and his government cozying up to the Soviet Union, JFK imposed a complete trade embargo and travel ban. (Just before signing the ban, he hypocritically stocked up on the very Cuban cigars he was about to criminalize – in this case, the Petit Upmann.)

At the time, it was thought that the embargo would prevent Americans from supporting Castro’s regime, but 45 years of evidence suggests we should rethink that logic. Certainly, Fidel was a dictator who headed up an oppressive government. Providing Castro an excuse for scapegoating the U.S. for the problems of Cuba, however, likely allowed him to hold onto power longer than otherwise would have been possible.

There are many brutal dictatorships around the world, but for some reason the U.S. government only imposes an embargo and travel ban on Cuba. In fact, other communist countries like China and Vietnam have become increasingly capitalist and liberal as we have traded with them.

With Fidel Castro stepping down, a new chapter begins in the long and complicated history between the U.S. and our island neighbor. Raúl Castro, Fidel’s brother and successor, will not instantly end the despotic regime, but there are indications that he is more open to market reforms and is considered more pragmatic.

While it may be wishful thinking, we should hope that Fidel’s exit will lead to serious discussion about, and the eventual ending of, the sanctions and travel ban against Cuba. And maybe in the near future we can all smoke some fine Cuban cigars to celebrate the end of the embargo.

Patrick S

photo credit: AFP

7 Responses to “Stogie Commentary: Re-Evaluating the Cuban Embargo”

  1. Chris V Wednesday, February 20, 2008 at 12:24 pm #

    Figures, just as one oppressive smoking hindrance may be coming to an end, a whole new one is starting up right at home 🙁

  2. Ricky Friday, February 22, 2008 at 3:43 am #

    Unfortunately, as willing as Raul might be (which I don't think is too willing), our own government doesn't seem to keen on opening up discussions any time in the near future.

  3. KSINNM Wednesday, February 27, 2008 at 4:12 am #

    Not only should we continue not doing buisness with Cuba, we need to discontinue all ties with all communist countries.

  4. Kevin D. Korenthal Monday, March 3, 2008 at 9:55 am #

    Are you guys fricking kidding? For the simple desire to smoke an excellent cigar you are willing to loosen restrictions on trade with one of the most consistently brutal regimes of all time? Rather than Vietnam and China being the example of what we should do in Cuba, Cuba should be the example of what we do with those other countries.

    No sir. I love a Cuban just as much as the next guy (never smoking them on U.S. soil but in Mexico and Canada) but I can not condone lifting sanctions on Cuba until there is a serious move towards political reform and human rights. I don't care how good the smoke is.

    Stop being so selfish.

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